A rare German late Gothic Medieval ciborium
Lower Saxony, Germany; ca. 1400 or early 15th century
Approximate size (with feet): 30.5 cm
The simple and eloquent design of this ciborium relates it to the Gothic metal-work of Lower Saxony from around the year 1400. Although utilitarian in its use for storing the Eucharist, its modest amalgam of shapes establishes a visual harmony pleasing-to-the-eye.
A spherical body, hinged, is topped by a conical finial imitating the spire of a church. A trace remnant of the former cross once surmounting the ciborium is still intact. The round stem features a central, spherical knop and is supported by a splendid hexafoil base. The few trace remnants of its original gilding, highlighting the chased grooves along its base, provide an added character to its chic styling.
The footed lions are a later addition, probably 19th century, and are intended to stabilize the ciborium while the lid is open. They can be removed if needed.
Gothic German ciboriums are uncommon in the art market, with many perhaps destroyed or melted-down during the German Reformation, at which time they were banned from use after the first quarter of the 16th century.
In addition to its appeal is its former provenance with the collection of Frits Philips, son and nephew of the founders of Philips light-bulb and electronics company. In addition to the company he helped operate, Frits is also recognized for rescuing 382 Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during WWII, convincing the Nazi’s they were essential to his facility’s operations.